Robert Michels (German: [ˈmɪçəls] ; 9 January 1876, Cologne, Germany – 3 May 1936, Rome, Italy) was a German-born Italian sociologist who contributed to elite theory by describing the political behavior of intellectual elites. He belonged to the Italian school of elitism. He is best known for his book Political Parties , published in 1911, which contains a description of the "iron law of oligarchy." He was a friend and disciple of Max Weber, Werner Sombart and Achille Loria. Politically, he moved from the Social Democratic Party of Germany to the Italian Socialist Party, adhering to the Italian revolutionary syndicalist wing and later to Italian Fascism, which he saw as a more democratic form of socialism. His ideas provided the basis of moderation theory which delineates the processes through which radical political groups are incorporated into the existing political system.
Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. With slightly over a million inhabitants within its urban area, Cologne is the largest city on the Rhine and also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when civil discontent led an institutional referendum to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.
Michels born to a wealthy German family, studied in England, Paris (at the Sorbonne), and at universities in Munich, Leipzig (1897), Halle (1898), and Turin. He became a Socialist while teaching at the University of Marburg and became active in the Social Democratic Party of Germany for whom he was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1903 German federal election. In Italy, he associated with Italian revolutionary syndicalism, a leftist branch of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). He left both parties in 1907.
Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.
He achieved international recognition for his historical and sociological study, Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie. Untersuchungen über die oligarchischen Tendenzen des Gruppenlebens, which was published in 1911; its title in English is Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy . In it, he presented his "Iron law of oligarchy" theory that political parties, including those considered socialist, cannot be democratic because they quickly transform themselves into bureaucratic oligarchies.
The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It asserts that rule by an elite, or oligarchy, is inevitable as an "iron law" within any democratic organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization.
Michels was considered a brilliant pupil of Max Weber, who began publishing his writings in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik in 1906and appointed him as co-editor in 1913, but they disagreed over Michels' opposition to World War I.
Maximilian Karl Emil Weber was a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist. His ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Weber was a key proponent of methodological anti-positivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive means, based on understanding the purpose and meaning that individuals attach to their own actions. Unlike Durkheim, he did not believe in mono-causality and rather proposed that for any outcome there can be multiple causes.
The Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik was an academic journal for the social sciences in Germany between 1888 and 1933. Its first editors were Edgar Jaffé, Werner Sombart, and Max Weber. The latter published his seminal essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in the journal in two parts in 1904 and 1905.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
Michels criticized what he perceived to be Karl Marx's materialistic determinism. Michels borrowed from Werner Sombart's historical methods. Because Michels admired Italian culture and was prominent in the social sciences, he was brought to the attention of Luigi Einaudi and Achille Loria. They succeeded in procuring for Michels a professorship at the University of Turin, where he taught economics, political science and socioeconomics until 1914. He then became professor of economics at the University of Basel, Switzerland, a post he held until 1928.
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.
Determinism is the philosophical belief that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism. Determinism is often contrasted with free will.
Werner Sombart was a German economist and sociologist, the head of the “Youngest Historical School” and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century.
In 1924 he joined the Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini, former director of the Italian Socialist Party's newspaper "Avanti!". Michels was convinced that the direct link between Benito Mussolini's charisma and the working class was in some way the best means to realize a real lower social class government without political bureaucratic mediation. In 1928, he became professor of economics and the history of doctrines at the University of Perugiaand occasionally lectured in Rome where he died on May 3, 1936.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from his golpe in 1922 to 1943, and Duce of Fascism from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.
Avanti! is an Italian daily newspaper, born as the official voice of the Italian Socialist Party, published since 25 December 1896. It took its name from its German counterpart Vorwärts, the party-newspaper of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
Charisma is compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
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Niklas Luhmann was a German sociologist, philosopher of social science, and a prominent thinker in systems theory, who is considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century.
Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was an Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher. He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals' choices. He was also responsible for popularising the use of the term "elite" in social analysis.
Representative democracy is a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. Nearly all modern Western-style democracies are types of representative democracies; for example, the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, France is a unitary state, and the United States is a federal republic.
Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy is a book by the sociologist Robert Michels, published in 1911 and first introducing the concept of iron law of oligarchy. It is considered one of the classics of social sciences, in particular sociology and political science. It was translated to Italian as Sociologia del partito politico nella democrazia moderna: studi sulle tendenze oligarchiche degli aggregati politici by Alfredo Polledro in 1912, and then translated from the Italian to English by Eden Paul and Cedar Paul for Hearst's International Library Co. in 1915.
Helmut Schelsky, was a German sociologist, the most influential in post-World War II Germany, well into the 1970s.
Hans Freyer was a conservative German sociologist and philosopher.
Alfred Vierkandt was a German sociologist, ethnographer, social psychologist, social philosopher and philosopher of history. He is known for a broad and phenomenological Gesellschaftslehre promulgated in the 1920s, and for his formal sociology.
Leo Kofler was an Austrian-German Marxist sociologist. He ranks with the Marburg politicologist Wolfgang Abendroth and the Frankfurt school theoreticians Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno among the few well-known Marxist intellectuals in post-war Germany. However, almost nothing of his work was ever translated into English, and he is therefore little known in the English-speaking world. Kofler had his own, distinctive interpretation of Marxism, which connected sociology and history with aesthetics and anthropology.
In political science and sociology, elite theory is a theory of the state that seeks to describe and explain power relationships in contemporary society. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections. Through positions in corporations or on corporate boards, and influence over policy-planning networks through financial support of foundations or positions with think tanks or policy-discussion groups, members of the "elite" exert significant power over corporate and government decisions. The basic characteristics of this theory are that power is concentrated, the elites are unified, the non-elites are diverse and powerless, elites' interests are unified due to common backgrounds and positions and the defining characteristic of power is institutional position.
Wolf Lepenies is a German sociologist, political scientist, and author.
Dieter Claessens was a German sociologist and anthropologist.
Peter Flora is an Austrian citizen and taught until his retirement in spring 2009 as a professor of sociology at the University of Mannheim. Peter Flora is a son of the Austrian drawer, caricaturist, graphic artist and illustrator Paul Flora.
Uta Gerhardt is a German sociologist and professor emeritus at the University of Heidelberg. She studied sociology, philosophy and history at the universities of Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. In 1969, she obtained a Ph.D. at the University of Konstanz. The focus of her work is on medical sociology, structural-functionalist role theory, and general sociological theory. She also wrote a major biography of Talcott Parsons.
Arnold Hauser was a Hungarian art historian who was perhaps the leading Marxist in the field. He wrote on the influence of change in social structures on art. His The Social History of Art (1951) argued that art—which, after a paleolithic period of naturalism, began as "flat, symbolic, formalized, abstract and concerned with spiritual beings"—became more realistic and naturalistic as societies became less hierarchical and authoritarian, and more mercantile and bourgeois (Harrington).
Adolph Lowe was a German sociologist and economist. His best known student was Robert Heilbroner. He was born in Stuttgart and died in Wolfenbüttel.
Wolfgang Zapf was a German sociologist.
Ehrhart Neubert is a retired German Evangelical minister and theologian.
Heinrich Popitz was a German sociologist who worked towards a general sociological theory. Alongside thinkers like Helmut Schelsky, Hans Paul Bahrdt, Dieter Claessens, and others he was one of those sociologists in post-war Germany who founded their sociological reflections on insights from Philosophical Anthropology, thus creating an alternative to the then dominant paradigms of the Frankfurt School and Cologne School. His work revolves around the four central concepts power, norms, technology, and creativity.
Elena Esposito is an Italian sociologist who works in social systems theory. She teaches general sociology at the Bielefeld University (Germany) and sociology of communication at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy). Her research is embedded in Luhmannian social systems theory.